“Why Commemorate Yeats?”

10 December 2015

We need to invite the ghost of WB Yeats to the table when devising a new national cultural policy, according to Professor Chris Morash who delivered a public lecture to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel-prize winning poet in Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015.  The event also marked the launch of the “Regenerating Yeats” project – a student led initiative calling on writers worldwide to submit new translations of Yeats’s work to the Trinity Journal of Literary Translation.

Throughout his life WB Yeats was adamant about asserting the absolute value of the arts as a starting point for thinking about funding for the arts and the formulation of cultural policy, according to Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing, Trinity.

“The 150 Anniversary of Yeats’s birth has allowed us to reflect on Yeats and see him in new light. As part of this I believe that we should invite the ghost of Yeats to intervene in contemporary debates such as the current conversation about the formation of a new national cultural policy, Culture 2025. We need Yeats to remind us of the intrinsic value of the arts.”

“If invited to the table today to discuss the role of culture in modern multicultural Ireland I believe that Yeats would insist that we look at culture, not just in terms of what it can do for brand Ireland, but also look at it as something that has an absolute value in itself. Throughout his life Yeats was ruthless in this pursuit. He always put his art first.”

Professor Morash's lecture was interspersed with readings of new translations of Yeats's work in six languages – French, German, Polish, Russian, Turkish and English. These new translations form part of the “Regenerating Yeats" project being undertaken by the student-led Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, which is calling on writers worldwide to submit new translations of Yeats’s work. The translations will be published online in the coming months and in print in a Yeats Special Edition of the journal at the end of the academic year. 

Thomas Rodgers Endersby, Chief Editor, Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, commented: “With the Regenerating Yeats project we are hoping to commemorate Yeats in a way that connects to younger writers all over the world. We hope to foster new translations of and creative responses to Yeats’s work and to encourage cultures that might not necessarily privilege Yeats as much as we do to look at and engage with his work.”

Media Coverage:

Irish Times, December 25, 2015

Media Contact

Fiona Tyrrell, Press Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4337

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